Plans to model Southern Africa's textile and clothing industry on that of Mauritius would lead to the death of the SA textile industry said Textile Federation president Walter Simeoni.

He was responding to proposals contained in a report by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which call for the removal of all internal textiles duties in the region. But, said Simeoni, because Mauritius has a flourishing garment industry but lacks raw materials, the Mauritian model involves zero duty on machinery, cotton and yarn and high duty on garments. In contrast, SADC countries such as SA, Zimbabwe and Malawi, have established textile industries.

Another concern was that customs controls in other SADC countries are not as developed as South Africa's - and that cheap illegal imports coming through those countries from Asia could sink the region's industry.

Simeoni said he would prefer SA to help develop these SADC custom controls and build the textile industries in those countries in the next five to six years before opening the country's borders to SADC members.

He also stated the goal of the SADC should be to create a textile industry that would compete globally by being a world-class textile manufacturer rather than on low labour cost. He said this would help create a consumer economy in the region and not just jobs.